How Sisterhood Has Shaped The Course Of My Life

·5 min read

Inspired by BET’s Sistas Season 3, a show that exemplifies the ways in which Black women uplift each other, we tapped Brittany Hicks, entrepreneur and co-founder of retail tech firm Fayetteville Road, to share what sisterhood means to her, and how — from childhood to the present day — it’s meaningfully shaped the course of her life. Read her story below, and tune into Sistas Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on BET.

Sisterhood means something different to every woman, and it’s one of those amorphous concepts that can’t quite be articulated fully, like love. I was born into a sisterhood. I have one older sister, but I have gone on to curate a life around cultivating sisterhood, unintentionally but unapologetically.

My mother first laid the groundwork for my understanding of sisterhood. She has five sisters, including a twin. Their relationships are similar to Black sisterhood universally, individually different but cohesive and algorithmic, in the sense that they can be difficult to understand and difficult to break apart. So as a child, sisterhood looked like togetherness — on weekends, on holidays, at church, at grandma’s, and on vacation — loaded with obligation and a sense of duty and care. But as I grew older, I realized the equation was equal parts support.

Growing up, my favorite show was A Different World, a sitcom about students at a fictional, historically Black college in Virginia. I loved watching the characters navigate their friendships. It helped me visualize my future self on a Black college campus with other women learning, growing, and evolving through the years. It also shaped my expectation for fostering relationships at that stage of life. Each of those characters represented the rich diversity of Black women across our community with their intersectional identities, geographic home-base, and specific experience.

My most vivid memory — and my first palpable example — of their sisterhood is when my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was 15. My parents shared the news late in his diagnosis when they couldn’t hide it any longer after he fell in our living room one night, left for the hospital, and returned home in a wheelchair. He would not walk for the last four months of his life. During this time of grief and confusion, the sisterhood assembled at my house to cook, clean, and care for my mom, who was caring for my dad.

With the weirdness of my home life during those high school years, I found sisterhood at school and through my dance company. Those sisterhoods allowed me to escape the realities I could not mentally or emotionally process at home. My friends closed the gap in the absence of my actual sister who was away at college, meeting a new version of sisterhood that I would encounter four years later.

Sisterhood came in the form of sleepovers, trips to the mall, sharing secrets and insecurities about boys, and learning how to navigate the excitement and boundaries of being a young woman — exploring our sexuality and discussing hopes, ideas, and dreams. This phase of sisterhood was centered around shared growth and attempts to figure out the world we were blossoming into. The shared experiences of first jobs, first cars, and first boyfriends helped to establish our sisterhood, and consistency allowed it to grow — some of these same women have remained a very present part of my adult life.

In college, I continued my love of team sports through cheer and dance. I found camaraderie in cheer battles (sort of like what you see in cheerleading films, but with the stomp and shake tradition of Black colleges) on Saturdays and sorority meetings on Sundays. There I met hundreds of women who were supportive and caring, and have remained a constant in my life.

Now, in my 30s, on this insatiable quest for sisterhood, I have my cofounder, Jessica Couch. We met on LinkedIn. The initial messages were very professional, but our first conversation was a vibe — although nothing could have prepared us for the journey we are on now. Jess and I launched Fayetteville Road, a data-driven retail tech firm to create equity and opportunity for women of color in retail spaces. And now, Fayetteville Road is the parent company for WOC Worldwide, where we curate events and content for women with experiences similar to our own — women who are often misunderstood and typically alone in fashion, beauty, or even emerging spaces like cannabis, but who also possess depth, talent, and passion to offer their industry and the world.

Through our agency, we work exclusively with other women of color who are going through the journey of entrepreneurship with the intention to offer support and solutions. Our team is a diverse group of Black women who are entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds across retail, sports, entertainment, events, and marketing. Sisterhood in our agency is all about sharing, manifesting, and establishing mutual respect, which empowers me to advocate on behalf of others, including the brand founders we worked with last year to develop retail partners and wholesale relationships. The most rewarding part is receiving a call or text from a founder thanking our team for the opportunity, visibility, and support.

Through the years, I’ve learned that sisterhood is the bond formed between women through our intuition, emotion, experiences, and acceptance. It’s taught me many things, like how to show up for people. And because sisterhood is a reciprocal experience made stronger by each committed individual, you learn to show up for people the way they need you. It was there in my home, as I was becoming a woman, and it exists now as a part of my shared vision with Jessica to reclaim the collective economic power of women of color and create a circular economy in industries we drive. It’s not just sorority life or our familial relationships or friendships — we choose these women, our sisters, to be constant figures in our lives, and they, in turn, give us the opportunity to be known intimately and loved. My chosen sisters exist in every phase of life, reminding me who I was, who I am, and who I plan to become.

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